901 series 2 speakers

hi, anybody out there have any thoghts of the bose 901 series 2 speakers?
They weren't very good when they first came out and they would be simply dread
Ful now.
There's a few well written opinions and analysis of them. J. Gordon Holt's lengthy opinion and analysis is probably as straight and honest as you get. 
I'll withhold my personal opinion. 
Do you happen to have an older pair? I ask because I know that you have that older Phase Linear amplifier, and they require a lot of power.
People have different opinions of them, and there is an occasional poster here that really loves them. When you think about it, they are a type of omnidirectional, but not 360 degrees. They still use sound waves bouncing off the back walls to create their spacious effect. If you want to go that way, there are (I think) better speakers for it, like Ohms, Shahinians or Duevels. I recently bought a pair of the Duevels to use for an occasional change of pace, and I am really enjoying it.
The problem with the Bose is that you are using power sucking equalization to get those small drivers to produce bass. On the other hand, they look cool, and you can get a pair in good condition for an affordable price just to play around with.     

Which model of Duevels do you have?
They all look kind of interesting.

The Venus. I nearly bought the Bella Lunas about 12 years ago, but impulsively bought a pair of Focus Audio instead (big mistake). Anyway, the Bellas would be too much bass for my smaller room now, and there came up for sale.  It's only been 3 weeks, and I still have a lot to learn about them, but it is fun. Different than I expected in presentation. Very firm bass, and more of an "in the room" presentation than a "looking into the performance" type. Obviously, they sound "out of the box", and voices and instruments seem to be more three dimensional.
I'm still keeping my Klipsch Epic CF-4s, as they do some things that all of the other speakers I've had can't do.  

Yes I bet the Venus does give a more out of the box presentation,I will be changing up my 2nd system towards the end of the year and I added these to my list.

Thank You for the info,

roxy54, i have the series 2 that i bought back in 1972. and i did have a phase linear 400. these speakers were reccomended for around 100 watts a chanell. i still have my speakers but i now have a mcintosh 600 watt a chanell amp. i should get better speakers but since i'm retired and on a fixed income. i'll have to settle for them.
Turn 901's around so single driver on back faces you and speaker is about 
3' from wall , if you have at least 200 w a side they are fun , with just right
placement in room they are not bad .
But Series 2 is at least 30 years old . The original version actually sounded good .
I won a pr from Bose in 70's, sell 20 pairs get one  free. Played with them for a month and sold them for $600 .
I know the 901 drivers can sound good, they sounded real good in Bose system in my Nissan Maxima .
Schubert, there's 8 in the back and 1 in the front. do you mean face the 1 towards the wall and the 8 facing you?
No, just the opposite - 1 facing you and eight  toward the wall behind the speakers. Reflected sound...

If buying, be wary of rotted surrounds. Bose used foam surrounds (at least in the Series III and up) and they rotted within just a few years, prompting Bose to offer good deals on replacement speakers to prior purchasers in the 80’s. Quite expensive to have the surrounds replaced on 18 drivers!

the original and series 2 had cloth surrounds. mine are still original. 1 facing you and 8 facing the rear is how it's suppose to be. I know that. Schubert said the opposite.
I'm old and its been awhile , back towards you .
You are not completely wrong, shubert. When hung from the ceiling and close to the ceiling, bars always had the eight drivers pointed to the front. 8>)
i think once i was watching the show "happy days" and there was a 901 hanging from the ceiling with the 8 facing forward. i thought "happy days" were during the "50's"1
if you are thinking of buying, there may be newer better speakers for the price

the 901 was revolutionary when introduced and created a surprising sound stage

Later, it's ability to do that was eclipsed by other speakers with more accuracy

Bose Corp. is still a leader in pyschoacoustics, exp. in cars
Yup, there are better choices, but I still remember the 301's. They weren't great, but they did have a nice diffuse presentation. I listened to a dorm mates system and liked them. I lusted for 901's, but then Shahanian, Ohm, Maggie pulled me away. Finally, I became a Vandy fanboy.
@Mr. Nakamoto,
I hope you enjoy your speakers, they are definitely part of Audiophile history.
I didn't say they were great, I said they were fun .
I'm primarily a Classical music listener, If they were all I had or could have, I'd still be happy listening to my music .
They were just ok 40 years ago today they are really bad.Good luck enjoy.
Ok. Now I'll toss out my opinion. 
I think people looking for the sonic qualities of the 901, and who have the space to spare to accommodate them, would be better served by some sort of electrostat. 
As for the suggestion that Bose is a leader in psychoacoustics, I have nothing but contempt for the though. The 901 and speakers like it are designed around the demonstrably wrong assumption that the ear is well tuned to determine the locations of reflected sounds. It isn't. It's well tuned to determining the sonic characteristics of sound based on location. So long as those sound signatures are convincingly reproduced, the actual point of their origin is irrelevant to a good degree. 

As has been said elsewhere, Bose’s primary assumption---that listeners at a live concert receive around 89% of the sound they hear not directly from the stage, but rather after being reflected off the walls, ceiling, and floor of the live venue, and that a loudspeaker should therefore mimic that ratio---one driver in the 901 facing the listener, eight facing the wall behind the speaker---is fatally flawed: It assumes a recording contains direct sound only!

The 901 ignores the microphone arrangement of any given recording made in a concert hall. There are many different recording techniques, all capturing different ratios of direct and reflected sound. If a recording contains both direct and reflected sound, and the 901 then adds 89% more reflected sound, it is not reproducing what’s on the recording, it is trying to add reflected sound to a recording already containing that sound, in effect doubling it. See what I mean? No wonder the 901 sounds so diffused, confused, and blurred! It also destroys imaging, and makes instruments sound humorously over-sized, a piano or drumset the size of the distance between the speakers.

For the 901 to work as intended, a recording would need to be made either in an anechoic chamber, or with one mic capturing the direct sound from the stage in a hall, and eight capturing the sound reflected off the walls, ceiling, and floor of the hall. Then, a nine-channel hi-fi would reproduce each channel separately, one speaker per mic. Ain’t gonna happen.

And what of recordings made in a studio, as most are? The concept of 89% reflected sound does not apply here AT ALL. The 901 makes studio recordings sound completely ridiculous---grossly bloated and smeared. I know, I had a pair in 1970-1. Hated them, got a pair of Infinity 1001’s. Half the price, much better speaker.

901 sounded terrible even back in the day. The Bose cube acoustimas which came much later was better but rather limited dynamically.
back in 1971 i was only 18  and did'nt know too much about stereo components. i only knew what i saw at the "pacific stereo" store in l.a. county and what i read in the "stereo review" magazine since they retired.
I had a pair of 901/2's way back when.  Drove them with a Marantz 2270 that when cranked, the dial lights would pulse with the bass line....

No, I didn't blow the Marantz. *L*  I would and did back off.  However...

Ran into a salesperson that opined that the 901's could withstand a kilowatt (like with the then current Phase Linear's 'big one') and not seem to be in distress.  I wouldn't have been surprised with a new pair...

Lived for awhile in a rent house, and was blasting away when the landlady walked in and waved to get my attention.  She was laughing that when I had it cranked, it would drown out her stereo indoors some 50' away.

What blew her mind was that when she'd walk to the mailbox, she could follow what I had on....100 yards away.....*L*

Yeah, they weren't accurate, and they weren't 'audiophile' with they way they radiated, but damn you could get LOUD with them.  Not surprised that Bose later offered them as PA drivers, pointing the back 8 at the audience and saying the front single could be used as a stage monitor.  Often thought if you stacked, say, a dozen of them per side that they'd be an insane line source.  Turn the first 5 rows into jelly....*L*
asvjerry wrote:
I had a pair of 901/2's way back when. Drove them with a Marantz 2270 that when cranked, the dial lights would pulse with the bass line....
When the 901s came out, people were pretty naive about how much power they really required. Quite often they were paired with a Marantz or Pioneer receiver making 40-50 wpc. What people didn't know is the effect of the "Active Equalizer" had something like a 20dB boost at 50 Hz to impart some credible bass. That was quite a strain on an a typical--even a good--receiver at that time. Those with more money might pair it with a Phase Linear 400 or an SAE powerhouse. You might say Bose "came out of the closet" regarding power requirements when they produced the Bose 1801 power amplifier, a behemoth putting out 250/400 wpc into 8/4 ohms. *That* really lit up the 901s and showed what they could do when fed some serious power and current.

Not surprised that Bose later offered them as PA drivers, pointing the back 8 at the audience and saying the front single could be used as a stage monitor. 
Actually, the Bose PA speakers were the 800 series, starting with the 801 and soon on to the 802. The configuration *did* turn the Bose enclosures around so the 8 drivers faced the audience, but there was no single driver on the back side. The 800 model had a pair of large ports in the back; the 802s moved those ports to the front and managed to fit all eight 4-1/2" drivers in the angled front as well.
... Often thought if you stacked, say, a dozen of them per side that they'd be an insane line source....

In the 1970s I saw a multimedia presentation that used some really powerful amps (I forget which--probably Crown DC300As or Bose 1801. They used 3 pairs of Bose 800 speakers stacked and facing the audience in a mid-size venue. Those things played loud and clean. They also had the advantage of 48 full-range drivers with no crossovers, facing the audience. The midrange was crystal clear (ideal for dialogue) with seemingly unlimited (for 1976) dynamic range.

g_nakamoto writes:
hi, anybody out there have any thoughts of the bose 901 series 2 speakers?
A few years ago, Jeff Dorgay, editor/publisher of ToneAudio, did a fresh review of the Bose 901 Series VI loudspeakers with the same methods that would be used to review speakers today. For example, he used top quality Sound Anchor stands, high quality speaker cable (that won't fit in the narrow columns of Bose's pedastals), and a range of amplifiers, from a vintage Pioneer SX-424 to a Unison Research S6 vacuum-tube amp to a pair of Pass Labs XA200.5 monoblocks.

Read the review; I think you'll find it enlightening. He considered it a competitive value at its $1400 (new, retail) price an a lot of fun for many applications.

Dorgay owns and frequently reviews some seriously high end gear. 

To put some things in perspective, the 1st gen 901s retailed at $476 in 1971. Adjusted for inflation that would be $2874 in today's money. But today the Bose 901 Series VI retails at $1400, which would only amount to $232 in 1971.

junk in 1972 junk in 2017 no highs no lows must be Bose.
I think the OP is retired and has said this is all he has along with a Mac to power them.

I say enjoy the music no matter what your equipment is,

back in the 70's, i read that you should have at least 100 watts per chanell for these speakers.
Hey johnny, thanks for the history lesson. *L*  That was certainly my 'state of the art' for the era, and to get a 'flashback insight' on WTF was going on makes too much sense. *G*

The 901's were still impressive for the 'time and place', and I was happy as a well-fed pig in mud back then.  They could almost literally blow my friends away, even given the limits they were in.

As for the stated demo, it seems to relate to the modern 'line source' stack we see in concerts, driven by enough wattage to pound nails into softwoods. *L*  Small wonder the first 5 rows go home with their ears ringing. ;)  Perhaps, fortunately, I couldn't afford those seats on a regular basis....I wouldn't be able to hear what I can...*L*

Bose was right at the time....massed small drivers can work wonders, given a certain level of 'control' with active EQ.  And it still works...I'm a fanboy of active EQ to this day, dialing for 'flat response' in the space I'm faced with.  "All things being equal", if you will. ;)

Thanks again....*G*
You are not completely wrong, schubert. When hung from the ceiling and close to the ceiling, bars always had the eight drivers pointed to the front. 8>)
I wouldn’t take that as any definitive answer. It’s not like bar owners are known as acoustic geniuses or even for reading the instructions.

I was a sales guy at a Bose dealer in 1975-6 and I read up on all Bose's literature about the 901s' theory of ops and placement.

The Bose 901 was the result of Amar Bose’s Masters thesis at MIT, where he measured and studied the ratio of direct vs. reflected sound in Boston’s Symphony Hall, which itself is modeled after the second Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Germany.

Boston Symphony Hall is famously reverberant. Amar Bose’s research concluded that at Symphony Hall, of the sound that reaches the listeners’ ears, 11% is direct and 89% is reflected. Therefore he designed the 901 with one forward-facing driver and 8 rear-facing drivers. 8/9ths translates to as close to 89% as you can get.

The user guide instructed owners to place the flat baffle (with one speaker) facing into the room, the 8-driver angled rear facing the wall behind it, and position the speakers with a one-foot gap between speakers and wall.

The only other reason to have the 8 drivers facing into the room is if there is no wall--or an inadequate one--behind the speakers. The combined 16 speakers on two angled baffles bringing the entire wall into play, which is why the compact 901s produce such room-filling sound.

Post removed 
Back in the 70's, i read that you should have at least 100 watts per chanel for these speakers.
Yep. I would say 100 wpc in a high current amp would be the minimum, and 200 wpc is better. It's telling that Bose's own amp was 250 wpc into 8 ohms, 400 into 4.

The reason 901s were often underpowered is because in 1971 a pair of 901s plus a Phase Linear 400 plus a separate preamp would cost the equivalent of over $8900 in today's money, a bit steep for a college kid, or even a young professional. Just the Bose 901s plus a good receiver would be a lot of money by today's standards (about $5300).
*L*  And easy to DIY for not much bucks today, either, if one cares to duplicate them.  And the active eq is a snap, too.

If one wants to blast the daylights out of the neighborhood with 'whatever', or just have some sheer audio 'freak fun', you could do so for grins.  Decent drivers would make it edge into 'audiophile turf', but that's just heresy on my part. ;)

But those running 'line source' styled speakers know what that's about.  Making a bunch of small drivers 'go Big' is a well-beaten path by now...

I've taken 6 cheapie Pioneers and turned them into 'lines' hanging from the beams in my shop, 3 per side.  The guys were complaining that they couldn't hear their tunes over the equipment.  That stopped. *evil G*L*
I can't imagine the surrounds on Series II being any good.  I was replacing series II surrounds back in the mid 80's... With that,  I know many who really like 901's for listening around the house, but I don't know of any audiophile that would sit in front of them with real intent of trying to create live music.  

I've always had the 901's so I don't know what I'm missing. and since I'm retired I don't have funds to buy any other speakers. I can say that my phase linear amp did damage 3 of my speakers and I had them repaired. only 1 is still original. also the 1 and 2 series had cloth surrounds. 3 and up had foam which will need replacing after so many years.
No implementation of 901's can emulate a line array and modern line arrays have nothing at all in common with them. Stacking a bunch of boxes doesn't make a line array. 
kosst, yeah, true.

But that was then, and it's certainly now.  It could have been done, something like it did get done, and that's what lead to what's done now.

Progressions happen with remarkable frequency. ;)

Darkness into the light, only to find we're still in the dark. *L*
Line arrays evolved from the stuff Bear Owsley was doing with the Wall of Sound that The Grateful Dead toured with. Contrary to what a lot of companies hock as line arrays, they're defined by a set of charactistics that cannot be achieved by cones and domes alone. Before line arrays, speaker were arranged to emulate point sources, usually poorly. Meyer Sound has a wealth of white papers available on the subjects of point source and line arrays. 
Here is a decent little kit for only $100... they'll enter you into the audiophile world decent imaging, fairly smooth and detailed.... I'm sure that you might want a bit more bass, but you can add a subwoofer at anytime.  I hope this helps. Tim 

Bose 901's for $100 would be an ok party speaker.

Bose no longer sells the 901s in the US. I would  not be surprised to see the other two passive speakers, 201 and the other one go away soon.

There were a rumor years ago about a new generation 901, there were sketches of it, looked very contemporary and it would be powered by an internal amp. With advances in DSP I could see a "decent" sounding next gen 901 debuting

One more thing, I knew a Bose engineer. He and a lot of his co workers are audiophiles. When one's "job" is to design Bluetooth speaker or an OEM car audio with $20.00 worth of parts, one does their "job" and go home and enjoy music on one's high end system.
Remember that we are talking about "First World" problems here. Any speakers are better than no speakers, and I'm sure that the OP will enjoy his speakers regardless of what others feel about them. There are much worse speakers around, and some of them cost way more.
had an old friend that had these speakers.... 901 series 2,  driving them was a Technics Sp10 w/Technics arm, Going into an Audio Research SP10, driving with Kenwood L07M mono amps. 
 I've never heard ANY Bose sound better. 
The point of the "wall of sound" Dead system was discrete amps driving specific speakers for each instrument, instead of mixing everybody into the same drivers. Hense the enormity of the system, expense, and  impracticality…but it sounded great for about a mile in every direction.

what does "op" mean?

Optimus Prime, or original poster.
timlub, I later owned a pair of L07's.  They would have 'lit up' a 901/2 pair nicely.  Pity the two pairs were about a decade apart in my presence.

Anything nice in front of the L07's would have been merely frosting. ;)
Ah, well....long ago, and far away....*G*

Here's a history lesson re the WOS...

The 901s were the first higher end speakers I purchased. Living in the rural midwest, there were no Bose dealers in the area. So, like so many today, I relied upon product reviews from stereo magazines. One of the earliest 901 reviews was by, if I remember correctly, Julian Hersh (sp?) from Stereo Review. His impression was very positive, even a rave.  And his was not the only laudatory review. It was enough that I drove miles to Dayton to purchase a pair. My impression (no doubt biased because I had just spent, I think, $700) was great pleasure at the enormous sound stage and exciting live sound.

My point here is that based upon listening, 901 sound was enormous and fulfilling, and the reviews most positive.  It seems that when the listening experience was the only evaluative criteria, reviewers loved it. This changed some time later, as reviewers began citing disagreement with the Bose research methods conclusions, and that the the listening experience therefore had to be inaccurate. Then critical lab measurements were included in the reviews and more negativity was registered. So citing research, design, and lab measures the 901s suffered much derision over the years. But, I always wondered, why were those first reviews, those based solely upon the listening experience (including my own), generally so glowing.

The same arguments were made in a different context when tube and solid state components were compared. Why was the tube experience favored by so many,while the solid state measurements were so superior. Also, reviewers to this day still argue whether their ultimate, published judgement should be influenced more by listening or measurement.

If you are looking forward to purchasing your first "higher end" speakers, I can almost promise you that you would not be disappointed by 901s you might pick up. You will probably smile for a long time. Sure, there are better speakers. In fact I have built a pair of open baffle speakers that are the best I have ever heard, and cost less to build that a pair of purchased 901s. But you won't be disappointed. I certainly was not, and their earliest reviewers were not either.
Lynn Davison